Another Month, Another Challenge

Happy October, Friends! I’m not sure how it’s here already, but September is clearly gone. I spent last month returning to the basics to realign my focus, but I had some pretty heavy stuff to deal with following a family member’s health issues. Its time consuming nature really tempted to hijack my success. Although I’d love to tell you I made great strides of progress, I was lucky to escape September holding on by my fingernails. The good news is I didn’t backslide.

Many of you ask me how I stay focused, how I continue to pick myself up when I need to and start over. Friends, I look forward to the beginning of each new month because it gives me opportunity to look back, readjust and move full speed ahead. I also know I can turn the page every week if I need to…heck, each and every DAY is a fresh new chance to begin again!

So let’s hit RESTART together! Today is a whole new month! I’m still facing some obstacles that keep me from working as hard as I would like, but I won’t let that discourage me. Why? Because I’m grateful for what I can do. When I take time to examine what I’m still capable of, it inspires me to get out and JUST DO IT!

I’m always keeping my eyes open for new motivation, so when my husband’s employee wellness program announced their October and beyond challenge, I jumped aboard. I LOVE their pic and the name…Walktober!

I plan to spend the next 42 days enjoying the fall foilage as I walk to accumulate points. I downloaded the Walktober app and will use my Fitbit to track my steps. I’m excited because my husband is on board too.

And better yet? Here’s where you come in…I’m inviting any of you that live within a reasonable distance to message me on the FIT BFFs Facebook page to schedule a date you’d like to meet up and join me for a stroll through the crispy crunchy leaves…a walk on the trails, a hike in the park…whatever works, because the only thing more fun than working toward my goals? Not having to go it alone!!!

I’m serious, Friends! NOTHING would make me happier than having you reader friends as walking buddies each and every day of this challenge. My schedule is pretty flexible and you can pick the speed and distance, within reason haha!

So PLEASE hit me up to let me know when we can walk or hike…one more way to put our Best Foot Forward!

Seriously…let’s do this!

 

Bookworm Workout

Once Upon a Time…

like just this week, I was struggling to find my normal workout determination and motivation. I was looking for adventure, a unique and fit activity that would occupy both mind and body while enjoying the spectacular fall weather…so I did a little brainstorming.

And lately, Friends, I’ve noticed some super cute little book houses popping up all over town. So I decided to do a little research to learn more. I was intrigued to discover that some of these neighborhood libraries are part of a nonprofit organization initiative that fosters free neighborhood book exchanges around the WORLD! I found this information about Little Free Library here. And upon doing a search of my hometown of Rochester, MN, I found this…

But when I took a closer look at the map, I realized there were quite a few more around town I had seen that were not on this map. So I dug deeper and did a little search for Rochester neighborhood libraries and was sent to my local library’s website that provided me a map with even more options…

I enlarged the map enough to jot down multiple addresses in an area I wanted to explore and my adventure took shape. I made a mental map of the route I would take on my bike considering safety and distance. I filled my waterbottle, tossed a snack in my backpack, secured my bike helmet and was ready to ride! I rode for only a couple blocks before I came to the first one.

Now keep in mind, the selection is small, but changing daily. Also, the cost is free and there are no due dates or late fees…my kind of library! I was impressed with what I found within in terms of something for everyone. Friends, there were board books for babies, picture books for toddlers, early readers for preschooler-primary, chapter books for the more experienced, adult non-fiction and fiction…so many genres in one little place. I didn’t find a book that sparked my interest, but no worries…I had several more addresses to explore. So after a big drink of water, on I rolled!

This little library was color coordinated with the owner’s house…how cute is that? And again, a wide assortment of titles for all ages. Still nothing for me, but I was just getting started.

This one was painted to resemble some of the flowers in this owner’s beautiful garden. This was beginning to be somewhat of an art tour as well. I think how excited my boys would have been if these had been around when they were little. I imagined them popping out of the bike trailer to see what fun things awaited them at each stop! Just thinking about it made me smile.

What inviting little places to pause! This house offered a bench to enjoy the library’s contents right then and there in case you wanted to stop by for a quick little read. I took the opportunity to hydrate before moving on.

This library was perched on the edge of an enchanting garden with a welcoming bench lining the sidewalk and driveway…how nice is that?!? I’d put several miles down between these stops and was beginning to get hungry, so I sat down to enjoy my snack while perusing a Minnesota wildflowers book. I’d yet to find a book that called to me, but I wasn’t done yet, and I was getting one heck of a great workout! Time to hydrate!

Stop after stop, I was becoming more excited with each library I arrived at because this was like a fun little treasure hunt. I knew, eventually, I’d find a book or two that were meant for me!

And there it was…just the inspiration I was hoping to find! I popped that baby into my backpack, excited to find something that will light my motivational fire. I could hardly wait to get home and start reading, but I had a few more addresses to go. I marveled at how many miles I’d gone and how much fun I was having. Could this really count as a workout lol?!? Another drink break and I was back on the road.

The more I stopped, the more I found myself thinking about putting one of these babies in my front yard. I would LOVE to share the gift of reading with my neighbors! As I starting considering the possibilities of what ours might look like, I arrived at the final address on my list. I was grateful I had found a book, but figured it would be the only one I was returning home with until I spotted this…

I LOVE when the universe works in this way because as I spotted the title, I knew that book had my name written all over it; it was there just waiting for ME! Not only had I enjoyed an amazing outdoor workout, I found just the thing that will keep me motivated for many rides to come…a biking trail guide for Minnesota and Western Wisconsin! BOOM!

I rode home with renewed energy. This had turned out to be a great day…getting fit with lit hahaha!

Friends, if you are in need of renewed motivation and a creative workout, look up your community’s neighborhood and little free libraries, map them out and get moving. This bookworm workout is one more way to put our Best Foot Forward and…

Live Happily and Healthily Ever After!

 

Great Lakes Gelatin to the Rescue

Friends, I happened to glance through my Facebook memories this morning and got hit with a biggie…

This was kind of the beginning of the end, so to speak. A year ago today my knee decided to show me who was in control of my upcoming race schedule; unfortunately, it wasn’t me.

 

I did some physical therapy, consulted sports med, got a juicy dose of cortisone injected all in aim to put me at the start line of last year’s Marine Corps Marathon in October. Somehow I crossed the finish line that day too, but it was the end of far more than that race.

I’m not a great patient, nor am I patient, so the rest of the story is my own darn fault. My next option for treatment was a round of more injections, but that didn’t appeal to me at all, so I limped my own direction. I was dealing with pain from a combination of a mad meniscus, patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee) and a raging mad case of osteoarthritis.

My running came to a screeching halt. I was frustrated but did what I could to keep moving. I’ve continued to strength train the best I can. What I did enjoy about being slowed down was catching up with friends. Those who were intimidated by running have joined me for walks. Others have shown up on the mat next to me for some restorative yoga. I was able to keep the swelling in check by frequent icing and modifying my activities, but no matter how easy I’d been taking it, I couldn’t get relief from the pain.

I worked turmeric and glucosamine chondrointin supplements into my diet, but they never seemed to make much of a difference.

I continued to hobble around until July when I schlepped myself to Blogfest at IDEA World Convention…all things Fitness and Nutrition in Vegas. All those workouts and walking, boy was my knee angry! I looked at a lot of products designed to ease my discomfort, but when I literally stumbled upon the fine folks of Great Lakes Gelatin and read about their Collagen Hydrolysate, I was intrigued. But when they generously put the product in my hand and encouraged me to give it a try, of course I had to! What did I have to lose but pain and inflammation! They told me to give it a month to 45 days to notice a difference. I was grateful, but skeptical…why would this be different from what I’ve tried?

I started mixing the powder into my morning coffee at the end of July and within a week’s time I already noticed a marked reduction in pain and increased mobility. As the days went on, I no longer needed to ice my knee because the inflammation was gone! I continued to take the gelatin and in August I was traipsing around the Boundary Waters with a canoe on my shoulders!

Although my knee got kind of cranky from this epic trek, the inflammation never came back! A few days of rest following that trip and it was feeling fine again. I felt foolish at the beginning of this month when I looked closer at the can and realized I could have been taking it TWICE a day, so I’ve started doing that to experience its full effect.

Friends, I must admit I am not cured. I still experience some stiffness and discomfort when the clouds and thunderstorms roll through, but NOTHING like it was. I’m back doing almost everything in the gym because not only does it not hurt, the tightness and thickness that previously grounded me has diminished!

I plan to continue using this product because I am astounded by the difference it has made! I should tell you too, that I’ve noticed some bonus benefits of a great complexion and stronger nails and hair. And for a lady in my mid-40’s…I’ll take all the help I can get!

If you’ve been struggling with age or sports-related collagen loss/cartilage damage or joint/pain discomfort, consult your physician. But also keep Great Lakes Gelatin in mind for what your doctor-recommended pain relievers can’t help!

I whole-heartedly give this stuff the FIT BFFs stamp of approval!

Fine Tuning my Hospital Strategy

Friends, I drive past Mayo Clinic’s St. Marys Hospital Campus frequently. I was born here, had a fractured arm reset in second grade, visited the ER more times than I would’ve liked including my auto accident trauma drama. I honestly admit that each time I drive past, I thank the man upstairs every day I’m not there. I also send some positive thoughts upward for those that are.

I feel the heaviness of others when I pass by because I recall gut-wrenching days spent there with pretty heartbreaking outcomes for loved ones.

Unfortunately, yesterday found me there around the clock as my mother-in-law underwent a very delicate surgery. A day like that reminds me how fortunate we are to have world class medical care right here in our own backyard.

Before my weight loss journey, I would treat this day as the enemy…sedentary for hours in the waiting room, emotional binge eating to no end and panic stricken with worry and anxiety. Thinking back to my dad’s lung surgery simply haunts me. Thankfully I’ve learned to approach this kind of day with a more mindful strategy…take for example how I handled my husband’s surgery a couple years ago in case you missed it…

Despite the outcome, that turned out to be a pretty successful day. Recalling that experience, I was able to face yesterday’s uncertainty by putting my needs first, to take great care of myself so I could be stronger for others. Here’s what that looked like…

Once we got my MIL checked in and off to surgery and enjoyed a cup of coffee with her sister, I did something postive to feel helpful in this setting.

Someone will be receiving a pint of high-octane enthusiasm!

Next, I hydrated and fueled on something smarter than a blood donor center cookie…what better snack than an RX bar at a hospital haha?!? After a quick recovery I wandered upstairs…

The chapel was a beautiful place to release my concerns, leaving them to the guy in charge. Feeling peace filled, I returned to the waiting room for an update from my husband and his aunt. I spent some time blogging a great recipe, then it was off to lunch. I advocated for a place across the street, an escape from those four walls where I chose a nourishing lunch to be proud of…salmon salad for the win!

We were already starting to feel some exhausting effects of being up at 4 am, but our day was far from over. Heading back to the waiting room to find surgery was still underway.

I find it so interesting that if the Mayo Clinic calls sitting the next smoking, why in the world are there no treadmills in waiting rooms? Think of the power they could generate to make Mayo greener too?!? I mean, just a thought, Friends.

It was time for me to move more, so I racked up some steps exploring this fine historic piece of Rochester like a tourist.

The courtyard was a great place to breathe deep!

Then back inside for an educational look at St. Marys beginning, like this first operating table designed and constructed by Dr. Charles H. Mayo in 1889! There are some pretty cool relics in that heritage hall.

Back upstairs to the waiting room where it is now well into the afternoon…still in surgery. I take some time to catch up on e-mails, school notifications, scheduling, snack. This place is still filled with nervous people and energy and it isn’t long before I’m back out wandering the halls to avoid them.

A stop in the gift shop for an essential oil boost gave me some energetic support I was hoping for. I continued out onto the grounds to this amazing little place.

What a thoughtful spot for some peaceful meditation. I sort of lost myself there, lost all track of time. I received a text that although surgery was still in progress, we were being moved up to the ICU floor, so I headed that way. And just like that, I was validated for my efforts…

Hit my 10,000 step daily goal…BOOM!

More family joined us and soon I was feasting on a well-balanced, calorie counted hospital cafeteria dinner that was AWESOME. It was time to settle in for some relaxation and zone out on the NFL Kickoff.

We didn’t get word from the surgeon until nearly 9 pm that the day’s efforts had been a success…nearly 12 hours I might have spent worrying, I left the impatiens to the flowers outside lol!

We knew she was in the hands of one of the world’s finest neurosurgeons…so thank goodness I’ve learned that worry changes nothing but my blood pressure and weight!

After some reflection and time spent within those walls, I am fired up, now more than ever, about wellness as a defense against aging/illness. It was an exhausting day for all of us, but I slept well knowing I had taken great care of me…put my Best Foot Forward!

I look forward to driving past that hospital again soon, filled with gratitude for what miracles they work there but thankful every day that I don’t need one!

 

My September Goal…Back to Basics!

Happy September, fellow FIT BFFs! Parents across the country are breathing a sigh of relief. They’ve survived another action-packed summer and it’s time for the kids to go back to school! It’s time for students to be reunited with friends and return to a predictable schedule.

This becomes the perfect time for parents to return to themselves, so to speak. Back-to-school season is a great time for parents to get motivated, to refocus on their own personal goals…that’s what I’m doing.

Although I’ve lost a significant amount of weight within the past 5 years, I’ve experienced the slow and silent creep of partial regain. Hey, it happens, but I refuse to beat myself up over it. Instead, I’m reminding myself (and anyone else who’s interested) just what it’s going to take. This is what I’m calling my…

Brightly Colored Childrens Toy Magnetic Alphabet Letters on White Background

A is for Attitude, make sure it’s the positive kind.

is for Breathe…take time to quiet your mind and soul.

is for Calories, yeah, they count. Read those labels and stick to a serving size. One.

is for Determination. Some days will be easy but others you’ll need to dig deep. You’ve got this!

is for Every Day…a fresh new opportunity to be successful, so go for it!

is for Food! Remember it’s fuel and your stomach is not a garbage can!

is for Goals. Set them. Reach them. Set more!!!

is for Hard! Heck yeah, it’s hard! If it weren’t, everyone would do it!

is for Inspiration…look for it in others, never stop seeking it out. Soon you’ll be inspiring others too.

is for Journaling. Write down everything you eat…EVERY. SINGLE. THING!!!

K is for Keep Going! Start over as many times as it takes…just keep going!

L is for Lifestyle Changes…lots of little modifications make big differences. Huge.

M is for Mindful Eating. Eat at the table. Don’t rush or distract yourself with TV, computer or phone.

is for Never Give Up. Ever!

is for One Day at a Time. Results take time; be patient! Yesterday is over and tomorrow isn’t here yet, so focus on today.

is for Promise…promise yourself that you will see this through. All the way!

is for Quit, don’t you dare! And, for Pete’s sake, quit saying ” I can’t.”

is for Reward Yourself. You’re working so hard and you deserve it; buy that new pair of (running) shoes!

S is for Sleep! Get it. Lots of it. You need it….enough said.

is for Try New Things. Try it all…new activities, classes, ideas, foods and recipes.

is for Unstoppable. Convince yourself that you are, and you ARE!

V is for Vegetables. Eat them, all kinds of them; they are a weight loss friend!

is for Water…drink it often. Lots of it!

is for eXercise. Often. Do the active things you enjoy frequently.

is for You Are Not Alone. Many are on similar journeys. Find them and support one other.

Z is for Zero Regret….what you will have when you give it all you’ve got!!!

Although this may seem a vague goal, I’ll be reminding myself of these ABCs daily to move forward in the month of September, mind, body and spirit. I’d love to hear from you…what’s your plan this month?

Crushing My August Goal

Recently, my friend Katie and I loosely planned an outdoor adventure on Minnesota’s North Shore with the option of a visit to Canada because the call of the wild loudly beckoned both of us! Incidentally, this fit quite nicely within my August fitness goal to embrace summer before it’s gone!

My temperamental knee behaved well during training sessions in the weeks leading up to our adventure. I set an intention to experience everything I could, but to listen well to my body…a simple mindset.

I was nearly giddy with anticipation on my drive to Minnespolis. Katie was kind enough to put me up for the night so we could get an early start the next morning. This was to be a whirlwind of a weekend trip…non-stop from beginning to end. And, we were off! As we caught up with each other, the miles flew by…

Our energy was through the roof and we were ready to conquer the world! With no concrete plan, we were free to explore at will. So we hopped out at Jay Cooke State Park so Katie could get a taste of what I love about that place!

Yeah…I think she liked it!

We took advantage of this magnificent backdrop to enjoy a quick hiker’s lunch on the banks of the Saint Louis River. And then is was back in the car to put down some more miles.

Next stop, the SHT office…(careful spelling that one) the Superior Hiking Trail office in Two Harbors.

The woman there was a wealth of wisdom as we considered our options for the weekend. I’m not sure if this stop solidified our plans or overwhelmed us with countless more ideas, but we left with expert info. Back in the car! Next it was Katie’s turn to introduce me to a thoughful spot.

 

Yeah, I might have enjoyed Palisade Head just a little haha! What a perfect place to stretch our legs before jumping back on the road. Katie’s so full of surprises because she knew what was just ahead, and I’m so glad she did…

Seriously! What an extraordinary peek through a bridge!!! And then back on the road because we were headed to one of our best kept secrets…the Hungry Hippie Hostel just outside of Grand Marais.

This place had everything we needed and more. I’d never roomed in a hostel before but after this experience, I’d do it all again!

 

The ambiance was so “summer camp” reminiscent. We were very comfortable there and enjoyed the exquisite view of Lake Superior and the sunset.

 

And that was my sign to head to bed!

Because we had some pretty extraordinary plans early the next morning…

Plans that involved a sunrise and some sun salutations on the tranquil shore of Lake Superior…ahhhhh.

It was a quick savasana though because we had some international plans…how namaste?!?

We quickly traveled up to Ontario where we stopped to savor one of Katie’s family “up north” traditions…a smoked fish. It’s what’s for breakfast lol!

 

Yum! Well fueled, we headed into Thunder Bay to explore a bit of the Canadian lifestyle. Then stopped at a Gouda cheese farm; it was gooood-a (see what I did there?)! And then we were off for the real reason we crossed the border. We were on an elusive waterfall hunt and Pigeon River was home to this!

We weathered quite a rainstorm to behold this beaut, but so glad we did! I am in love with waterfalls, the roar of the water, the kiss of the mist, the energy you feel from your head to feet. SWOON!

My how the time was flying! We headed back to the states and Grand Marais, enjoyed some local fare despite the hustle and bustle of Fisherman’s Picnic Weekend; time to rest up for our last action-packed day!

This one started bright and early because there was still much to see! We had the amazing Judge C R Magney State Park to ourselves and beheld the mysterious Devil’s Kettle…

The gorgeous morning seemed to cheer us on in our endeavors as we took off for our next destination. Dear God, the stairs…these views did not come without a price and my knee was beginning to pay.

But the effort was well worth it! Cascade River State Park did not disappoint!

The climbs and decents were worth it every time! Check out the view on our next hike at Temperance River State Park!

There was beauty around every turn! This state of ours is such a playground, and such soul food too. But heavy-duty hikers can’t subsist on that alone, so refueling was necessary, but so welcome in a dining room like this…

Our legs were pretty fried at that point and we were feeling pretty weathered too, but there was one more waterfall we refused to miss, so we decended and climbed some insane terrain to take in our final award for our efforts…

  

Wow, Tettagouche State Park. Just Wow!

Sadly, our North Shore trek came to a close as quickly as it had arrived. Friends, we left everything we had on those trails but would do it all over again.

Because what this wildnerness sojourn took from us physically replenished so much more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FIT BFFs Goes to Vegas

Friends, I’ve been traveling quite often the past couple years in search of adventure, fitness and fun; I THRIVE on it!

I recently spent some time in Las Vegas attending IDEA World Convention, a four-day cutting-edge experience in fitness education, networking and motivation. I specifically attended to participate in BlogFest, in hopes of energizing my blog and reigniting that spark for my continued weight loss endeavors. I’m ecstatic to say I got that and SO MUCH MORE!

I was introduced to some fantastic motivators/fitness experts/authors Todd Durkin and Jorge Cruise. They were so generous with their inspiring messages and gift of their books!

 

I was starstruck coming face-to-face with Kathy Smith in my hotel lobby and later so excited to hear her message. Was amazing to see her in person after those step workouts we did together in the comfort of my living room all those years!

We were contantly on the go, even before BlogFest officially began, we met up for an early morning warm-up…seriously a hot mess sweatfest! July in Vegas, you know!

And that was just the beginning of the workouts because we were hopping all weekend!

 

I really enjoyed this Inner Idea Experience, four separate yoga threads woven together to produce a beautiful tapestry of profound namaste. I welcomed the delightful pause it provided.

 

The calm was very helpful because it was right back to high energy-activities like the mindblowing EXPO!

My most memorable experience was at the Reebok booth where I was fortunate to spend some time with Biggest Loser trainer, Jen Widerstrom. She gave me some much needed boxing tips and a gratitude rich experience I’ll cherish forever.

I LOVE a good expo because it brings me face-to-face with new experiences I’m dying to try…

A few minutes on that thing and my core had no idea what hit it! I will be begging and pleading with my gym to add these to their group fitness schedule!

It was fun to visit with the reps of some of my favorite products. LOVE the array of colors Bosu offers!

I had to do a double take when I spotted Tim, co-owner of my beloved Rollga. I couldn’t believe he was there, as he’s just up the road from me in St. Cloud, MN. But of course he was there, his invention deserves to be in every gym around the world and I’m so happy to witness it happening!

I’m thankful to have spent some time with the fine folks at Great Lakes Gelatin because in a week’s time of using, I’ve noticed a significant reduction in pain and increased mobility in my angry knee. WIN!!!

Throughout this wonderful conference I allowed myself a little me time. I got my recharged self to the gym…and I’m so glad I did. I built a little extra me time into the tail end of my trip too; I knew I would need to decompress and let my mind digest all it had taken in.

 

So I moved off the convention site for my last few days, but I didn’t sit still for long…

Because when in Vegas, there are far more things to digest than thoughts…

 

And I was even lucky enough to spend some time with my Cousin Bonnie as we attended a funny little show that reminds me it’s definitely time to keep moving!

 

Just ask its star, Cindy Williams (you know, Shirley from Luverne and Shirley!!!), we barely caught up with her after the show on our way out haha!

No, Friends, I will never stop moving…partially because I’m still wearing off that pot pie from Hash House a Go Go, but because I know there are so many more things I want to see and do!

What a fantastic treat BlogFest in Vegas was for me, and the experience just kept giving, like the first class upgrade I was awarded on the way home…aw, thanks, Delta!

And thank goodness, because the lightening in Minneapolis lengthened my time on that plane. Which made me miss my connecting flight home, but no worries…an overnight in Bloomington and right back to the airport for my plan B workout!

Because it’s all about putting our Best Foot Forward!

 

New Month, New Goal

I know I’m a day late, but this just illustrates how quickly summer is slipping through our fingers! How did it get to be August already?

At the beginning of each month, I set new goals; some are stricter than others, but all aim toward a healthier, happier me! Yesterday I really looked inward. What improvements did I hope to accomplish? Did I want measurable results? How could I make the most of my time? What outcomes would increase my health while feeding my heart and soul? These thoughts circled my mind as I pedaled to the gym.

I continued to consider what I hoped to achieve this month during my workout. As I biked nearly halfway back home, clarity…

I can’t possibly slow summer down, but I can spend more time enjoying it while it’s here. Why not take my workouts outdoors to soak in that sun, breathe deep the fresh air and embrace all that’s left of this season?

Folks, it couldn’t have been any clearer than the crystal blue water before me. I’ve decided to turn my focus from diligent calorie counting and the vigorous routines that have become habit for me at the gym toward embracing the outdoors in my pursuit of fitness. This doesn’t mean I won’t continue to watch what I eat and get my workouts in, it simply means mindfully spending more of my energy in an environment I can’t seem to ever get enough of.

I’ve already made some exciting plans to get myself outside more. Instead of mourning summer’s end with regret, I plan to look back with fond memories of epic adventure and wellbeing. While my results may not necessarily be measurable, I intend for them to be unforgettable!

Friends, you’ve got an entire month left of summer, how will you plan to make the most of it?

Do You Know What Day it Is?

Guess what day it is, Friends?!? It’s National Get Outdoors Day!

It’s a soulful walk for me because nothing makes me feel more alive than breathing in that fresh air and embracing the warmth of the sun. With so many ways to enjoy the outdoors, what are you waiting for?

Friends, what’s your favorite way to play outside?

Vacation Transformed Part 2

Friends, I’ve been home from Colorado for more than a week and I keep returning to what a memorable success it was. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. In that post I mentioned some mindful modifications we’d made to our standard vacation for better outcomes.

That week progressed quite nicely into one of my favorite trips of all times. We continued to venture out of our condo every morning with a new version of the same view…

   

And if that awe-inspiring daily welcome wasn’t enough, we drove all of two miles to enter this phenomenal playground…

Eric, Connor and I spent an afternoon exploring Rocky Mountain’s Bear Lake. Although it was still frozen over, it provided the freshest air, great vibes and opportunity to get lost in it all!

That afternoon beat any video game, thrill ride or entertainment…nature is all we needed!

As the afternoon wound down, it was time to meet up with my college friend, Lynda.

And it’s great we did because she knows that park like the back of her hand…she took us places that blew my mind! Thanks for a spectacular tour and evening, Lynda!!!

If I lived close to this, I would come every single day. I don’t think it could ever get old! This waterfall was both enchanting and mesmerizing.

   

I just couldn’t leave without some more yoga. It just seemed like the right thing to do!

That day’s light, love and energy seeped clear into my bones and soul.

Our week in Estes Park continued to be a challenge for me to eat healthy, but if one looked hard enough, good choices could be found. Take for instance this entree from The Egg and I…LOVED it!

I needed to keep fueled for our last day because I had something important to check off my bucket list. Since the moment I’d seen this place on an episode of Extreme Weightloss, I knew I had to go!

Red Rocks Amphitheater has played host to countless performers and their sold-out concerts on hot summer nights. But in daylight, this venue welcomes those looking for an unforgiving workout. It was exactly what I was hoping for on our final day in Colorado.

Because my knee was less than functional, I had to run/walk, but that didn’t take away from the amazing accomplishment I felt having traveled across each of 69 rows down, then back up again. I logged five miles of harsh slopes and relentless heat.

I was ecstatic too, because although this was likely not on Eric’s bucket list, he got me there and even joined in!

That workout took all I had within me that day…I left it all there! Which turned out to be a good thing because the next day and a half was spent driving home from this astounding vacation.

The drive home was somber, it was tough leaving such beauty behind. I replayed the amazing experiences we’d had over and over again in my mind and heart. That second day on the road, although tiring was an a-okay way to spend my birthday. Why? Because my beloved Pita Pit was only a couple hours from home!

Friends, I think we finally got this vacation balance thing right! I returned home tired but nothing like trips of the past. I’m recharged and ready to work on that bucket list of mine…a list I never bothered dreaming up until my weight loss transformation proved was possible!